Monday, February 03, 2014

The pipeline deal for 60 trillion cubic feet of natural gas offshore NL aka 'Muskrat Falls' #nlpoli #cdnpoli

The wet dream of NL Inc. for the past 15 years or so years has been to put in a natural gas export pipeline from the offshore oil & gas fields of eastern Newfoundland to points west. The natural gas pipeline system which extends up into Nova Scotia from the United States has been eyed greedily by both liberal & conservative governments in the past two decades, but no one has been able to make a deal happen for the gas offshore NL, to get the deal 'just right'. To fit all the pieces together and bring it home for private shareholders and institutional investors in not only canada's but the world's largest energy companies took alot of doing. It appears that it has potentially involved the trading off of public assets, those being not only the assets involved in the muskrats falls hydro electric dam and the related transmission infrastructure but indeed the people of NL's publicly owned utility NL Hydro.

The offshore gas fields in NL are reported to contain upwards of 60 Trillion cubic feet of natural gas, yes that's trillions with a T (http://newenergynl.ca/2011/06/21/20110621-2/ & http://www.northernlightsottawa.com/presentations/friday/PaulBarnes_CAPP_EDMS-202549-v1-Northern_Lights_presentation_February_2012.pdf).

Now, as a forester / farmer I don't pretend to know much about the technical aspects of the oil & gas sector but what I do know is it has the richest companies in the world operating within its folds, and those same companies are operating within my province on resources that are at least in part governed by the rules within our jurisdiction. With all that money comes influence and an ability to make things go your way. Complicit governments writing enabling legislation, so these massive corporations can operate outside the oversight of democratically elected legislative representatives is a major issue around the world. Here in NL recent legislation such as the energy corporation act of 2007 and its sections 5.4-5 are a big part of the problem, as is bill 29 and section 31 of its parent bill of 2002.

My research for the past decade has been focused on the issues around water privatization and hydro electric dams, and most recently has moved onto include the links those two issues have to hydraulic fracturing expansion in northeastern BC. I followed the water issue as a stand alone issue locally starting in 2003 through to the expropriation in 2009 of abitibi bowaters assets in central NL. There were concerns being raised at the time by a number of groups around the water rights granted by the harper administration under nafta where water rights appeared to be both granted and taken all in one swoop. Most of this kerfuffle is explained in the last post on this blog.

What I failed to recognize when I last posted was the issue of a gas pipeline system for the natural gas offshore NL, and the potential for massive profits off that resource. Once I saw that it didn't take long to find the studies left behind by the past liberal government for an offshore pipeline system and to begin to make the connections to the investors and executives piling up around the deal emera has with nalcor for the muskrat falls project to see there is way more to this deal than met the eye. Water is still a key piece but not for local NL players, they are just being used to set it up for the larger deal for Canadian water. Going on underneath is the deal with petronas in BC for the montney shale gas expansion and Montney Water Project, which is the real prize for the current crowd of corporate elite pulling our democracies strings.

What I've discovered appears to point to a rather large private investment in a pipeline expansion project by groups like exxon mobil, spectra energy, encana and snc-lavalin to get at the gas offshore NL under the guise of a hydro-electric & transmission deal built by the very people who appear to have been in the background helping put together the pipeline plan. Not all parties may be aware of all the workings inside the deal, but certainly some must know what is being sold, and what is being purchased as multi-billion dollar contracts are signed for the publicly administered natural resource wealth belonging to the good people of Newfoundland & Labrador.

The issue of water privatization is certainly in the background for local brokers when they eye the trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, but the initial profit from the gas resource is merely the driving force for the greed and underhandedness witnessed around the whole muskrat falls debacle. The real treasure is undoubtedly the water for those who have the security of billions in the bank and all the power one could imagine that wealth brings, for those amongst us who control the water control the fate of humanity. We only need look to the conflicts in the middle east and dig a little to find water issues being a major underlying factor in most of the disputes, though you will not find many people or reports discussing it...its simply too hot a topic.

My issue with what I see happening in NL around this pipeline deal is that Canadian water is being threatened with privatization. This threat is coming from the 'investor-state dispute settlement' mechanisms built into the new free trade deals being shoved down our throats, as well as the legislation which may have been abused under the guise of democratically elected government to help enable that privatization using greed and belief in 'the market' as both motivating factor and justification. Its not good enough.

If we are to progress as a species and continue forward together through the challenges we will face in the future whether that be a rapidly warming & volatile climate, ocean acidification, desertification, failing agriculture systems etc. we must go forward together, not separated by greed and fear.


More to come...but while you wait here are a couple links...

http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/1133470-pieridae-inks-35-billion-deal-for-gas-from-goldboro-lng

http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/1166323-lng-plan-would-use-pipeline

https://www.encana.com/news-stories/news-releases/details.html?release=615129

http://boereport.com/oil-and-gas-news-headlines/news/exxonmobil-announces-hebron-oil-project-to-proceed-off-canadas-east-coast/

http://www.theogm.com/2011/06/19/the-journey-to-hebron/

http://www.powerinourhands.ca/pdf/NaturalGas.pdf 

http://www.engr.mun.ca/~sbruneau/research/energy/SB2.pdf 

Update April 7th

Husky Energy Inc eyes Atlantic Canada LNG project to export to Europe, Indonesia 

(http://business.financialpost.com/2014/04/03/husky-energy-inc-eyes-atlantic-canada-lng-project-to-export-to-europe-indonesia/?__lsa=9929-a3af)


Notes for next piece...


Outside of the offshore gas is the gas onshore in NL, the private water rights that may be assumed by emera and perhaps even Kruger Energy for their Deer Lake Power dam on Junction Brook. The water behind that dam (Grand Lake) holds alot of water and the watershed includes a large portion of the surface area of western NL.

Nova Scotia gas export deals for $35 billion dollar contracts cannot be linked to private water as has been done in BC on williston lake. We cannot get out of $35 billion dollar contracts by paying out, remember Harper has stated it would be the responsibility of provinces in the future (via the abitibi settlement). There is substantial risk inside this deal and it needs complete review before any more contracts are signed.

Believe it or not there is also a plan for atlantic-wide electricity deregulation inside this whole big mess which will involve both NL Power (Fortis) & NS Power (Emera) that could have inside of it another layer of the offshore natural gas deal for gas distribution on the island. Interesting that Fortis has not showed itself up to this point in the 'Muskrat Falls' fiasco, though they are sitting on CH Hudson in New York where the HVDC line from Quebec plugs in. Its now owned by GDF Suez but was originally a douglas capital / TDI / Blackstone line when NALCOR signed on with with them in 2011. Suez also bought ventus wind who have a tremendous amount of wind under permit yet unbuilt. Ventus were the original partners with the metis in labrador for a 5000W wind farm....oh so interesting. Riverbank power and pumped hydro is also very interesting and will be explored in future posts.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The privatization of Canadian water is occurring right under our noses #cdnwater #nlpoli #bcpoli #cdnpoli

In the years leading up to Harper's majority the neo-con boys were busy. They were busy setting up contracts, trade deals, pipelines, transmission systems, water legislation, electorates & premierships.

This has occurred in the jurisdictions where water and electricity resources are available to export to the United States. Mainly NL, Que, BC & AB but that is not to say there hasn't been equal pressure put on other provinces resources and politicians.

In NL, the situation started with a Hydro deal in '98 which allowed the establishment of four private dams. The two dams of concern related to the Canadian water privatization threat are Star Lake and Rattle Brook. There was a public outcry and a halt was ordered to the establishment of private hydro facilities, but the two facilities had already been put in place.  http://www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/1998/exec/0831n01.htm

Between '01 & '03 legislation around these two dams was altered, and in between the water act was created replacing a host of outdated legislation. The wording in the new legislation refers to water right & licences as opposed to water leases & permits and this is where the process towards privatizing water, begun in '98 and continued under Danny Williams' administration really starts to accelerate. A similar process of privatization is currently being repeated in the proposed BC water act thanks perhaps to our 'enabling legislation' and the precedent setting case involving Harper and the Abitibi expropriation under NAFTA. In BC, Gwyn Morgan and the Christie Clarke Liberal government are working hard for their corporate friends in regard to water privatization, and what a prize that'll be for the corporate sector if it all goes through.  http://www.watershedsentinel.ca/content/ge-and-privatization-water

The Star Lake facility was expropriated in '09 along with the rest of ABH's assets on the Island by the Williams administration. Around that time EMERA first bought into Algonquin Utilities, which not coincidentally runs the Rattle Brook run of river hydro facility. Local concern went to the people impacted as well as the issues of contamination around the millsite but few picked up on the water issues it raised, except a lawyer representing the Council of Canadians.

Shortly after Williams expropriation of Abitibi (ABH)'s assets on the Island Harper paid out $130 million to ABH for Williams actions and effectively granted private water rights to ABH on the Star Lake facility according to the Council. Up to that point there had only been a permit/lease arrangement, but with newly amended legislation and the NAFTA ruling referring to water 'rights', the Rattle Brook facility may be considered 'private' with a licence and 'water rights' associated with it.

Williams signed the EMERA term sheet a few days before stepping down on Dec. 3, 2010. On Dec. 17 (two weeks to the day after his resignation came into effect) there was a large purchase of shares in EMERA (7.5 million with a value around 1/4 billion), and EMERA bought again into Algonquin. EMERA also received the go ahead on the purchase of Maine & Maritime Corporation (MAM) on the 16th which could have also contributed to the triggering of the large and rather anomalous share purchase http://www.emera.com/en/home/mediacentre/recentnews/2010/newsreleasedetails.aspx?SourceParams=reqid-1508712

The question all this raises....Is EMERA setting up in NL to establish a private water market in preparation for CETA? If the goings on in BC & AB are reflective of what is going on here in NL then the question needs to be asked now rather than later, before the deals are signed and sealed.

So, with the EMERA term sheet set to be signed shortly, is the future of Canadian water hanging in limbo? Lets hope not.

UPDATED
The latest development occurred just a couple days ago on April 10th, 2012 EMERA bought further into Algonquin on the verge of the term sheet being finalized.

AND AGAIN on July 31st 2012 they buy more into Algonquin -> Emera - News Release Details Emera Increases Investment in Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp.. This is a key day as it is also the day Emera finalized the deal with NALCOR for the whole deal on the Maritime & Labrador-Island link / Muskrat Falls fiasco Emera Inc. and Nalcor Energy Finalize Agreements for the Development of Muskrat Falls


Additional reading

http://www.algonquinpower.com/financial/reports/annrep99.pdf 10640 NL Ltd was registered in NL & shifted to NS. why is #'d company investing in a dam w ties to water privatization? Dec '98 ALQ acquired via 100% of outstanding shares of 10640 Newfoundland Ltd

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A few of da byes playin' a tune.